Simple Random Sample - short version

A sample where every element in the population has a chance at being selected.

Simple Random Sample - long version

simple random sample is a subset of individuals (a sample) chosen from a larger set (a population). Each individual is chosen randomly and entirely by chance, such that each individual has the same probability of being chosen at any stage during the sampling process, and each subset of k individuals has the same probability of being chosen for the sample as any other subset of k individuals. This process and technique is known as simple random sampling, and should not be confused with Random Sampling.

In small populations and often in large ones, such sampling is typically done "without replacement" ('SRSWOR'), i.e., one deliberately avoids choosing any member of the population more than once. Although simple random sampling can be conducted with replacement instead, this is less common and would normally be described more fully as simple random sampling with replacement ('SRSWR'). Sampling done without replacement is no longer independent, but still satisfies exchangeability, hence many results still hold. Further, for a small sample from a large population, sampling without replacement is approximately the same as sampling with replacement, since the odds of choosing the same individual twice is low.

An unbiased random selection of individuals is important so that in the long run, the sample represents the population. However, this does not guarantee that a particular sample is a perfect representation of the population. Simple random sampling merely allows one to draw externally valid conclusions about the entire population based on the sample.

Conceptually, simple random sampling is the simplest of the probability sampling techniques. It requires a complete sampling frame, which may not be available or feasible to construct for large populations. Even if a complete frame is available, more efficient approaches may be possible if other useful information is available about the units in the population.

Advantages are that it is free of classification error, and it requires minimum advance knowledge of the population other than the frame. Its simplicity also makes it relatively easy to interpret data collected via SRS. For these reasons, simple random sampling best suits situations where not much information is available about the population and data collection can be efficiently conducted on randomly distributed items, or where the cost of sampling is small enough to make efficiency less important than simplicity. If these conditions are not true, stratified sampling or cluster sampling may be a better choice.

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